We’ll drive to the courthouse. Today, we’ll go in separate cars. Juan will be leaving from home and I’ll be driving from work.
We’ll circle the block a couple of times in search of a parking space.
We’ll walk to the courthouse.
We’ll unload our pockets, walk through the metal detectors and then load our pockets back up again. I’ll pat myself down, to be sure I haven’t left anything behind. I can be fairly Mr. Magoo-like at times.
We’ll take the elevator to the third floor and sign in at the desk.
We’ll scan the sign-in sheet to see who arrived ahead of us. The parents? The attorneys? The caseworkers?
Knowing that not everyone signs in, we’ll scope out the waiting area immediately outside the elevators. If the parents have arrived, we’ll see them sitting next to each other wearing unbothered expressions. After 28 months, they are still a puzzle to me.
We’ll find a spot in one of the waiting areas away from the main one.
We’ll watch the parade of frustrated mothers, defiant sons, busy attorneys and overworked caseworkers pass us by, headed to one courtroom or another.
From our vantage point, we’ll see who enters and exits the CINA (Child in Need of Assistance) suite. This is where the action seems to take place. Caseworkers, attorneys and advocates meet here to argue their points, make agreements, formulate plans and prepare to present to the Master/Judge.
We’ll try to get the attention of the court-appointed attorney/guardian ad litem, the advocate for T and his sisters. The GAL who had been on the case since its start moved on. We’ve yet to meet the new one. I Googled her, so at least I know what she looks like.
We’ll wait for someone to tell us that the hearing is going to start and that it is time to head to the hearing room. Typically the GAL or one of the caseworkers will let us know. I’m always afraid that we’ll be forgotten and the hearing will be held while we sit quietly in the waiting area.
We’ll sit in the back row. The hearing room is small. There’s a table for the respondents (in this case, the parents with their attorneys, a table for the plaintiffs (DSS attorney) and a back row for the supporting cast of characters (caseworkers, other attorneys, foster parents). All face The Bench, where The Master is seated.
We’ll try to understand what is happening in front of us. Over the past 2+ years, we’ve learned that rules and regulations allow more fluidity than we would have ever imagined and that seems to make the process even more complicated.
We’ll glance at the parents every now and then to see what, if anything, registers.
We’ll wait for a decision from The Master. Some decision. Something other than “see you in 6 months”.
We’ll exit the hearing room.
We’ll leave the courthouse.
We’ll get in our cars.
One us will pick up the boys.
We’ll read books.
We’ll watch tv.
We’ll hope that tomorrow is better than today.